On Sunday February 5, a limited overs match will be played at Oval No. 1 at the University of Sydney between an Indian Community XI and the Australian Transplant Cricket Club for the “Hookes Family Jevaan Dhan” trophy.
Australia’s multicultural diversity represents a major hurdle in bringing Australia’s rate of organ and tissue donation to world standard, according to Transplant Australia.
However grassroots community-driven campaigns and testimonials from those Australians with multicultural backgrounds will help break down traditional misunderstanding about donation.
A new initiative, instigated by the NSW Indian Welfare Association (IWA) and tapping into Australia’s collective love of cricket, is an annual cricket match between an Indian community XI and the Australian Transplant Cricket Club (ATCC), a team of transplant recipients, for the IWA’s “Cricket for Jeevan Dhan” event.
Robyn Hookes, from the David Hookes Foundation, will attend the match to present the trophy to the winning team. In March 2004, Robyn and her family had no hesitation about organ and tissue donation when cricketing icon, coach and media personality, David Hookes sustained a fatal head injury. The next day, one family’s tragic loss either saved or dramatically improved the lives of 10 or more Australians.
The “Cricket for Jeevan Dhan” event is funded by the Organ and Tissue Authority through a Community Awareness Grant to the IWA to address potential barriers to discussion and decision-making about organ and tissue donation.
According to the Australia and New Zealand Organ Donation Registry, four per cent of organ donors over the past six years were Australians with an Asian family heritage. “Yet our research shows 16 per cent of those waiting for a kidney transplant have a family background from Asia according to Transplant Australia CEO, Chris Thomas.
“More and more people with multicultural backgrounds are now on our waiting lists but we all need to understand that we are much more likely to receive a transplant, especially a kidney, if someone from our genetic background or genetic pool is donating. This is simply because of tissue typing and compatibility issues.”
Australian Transplant Cricket Club Chairman Jeff Sewell said the beauty of these matches is that the transplant recipients are not just representing themselves but also their donors. “In effect every time we take the field, 22 people are being represented; eleven of whom made it possible for our team members to have a second innings at life.”
Hard hitting all-rounder Gary Gilmour is also part of Australia’s cricketing heritage with transplant connections, having received a life saving liver transplant in Sydney in 2005. He remains fit and very well.
Western Sydney cricket umpiring identity, Malli Iyer, is an IWA stalwart. A resident of Australia for more than two decades, he believes that if the Indian Premier League existed in the 1970s and 1980s, Hookes and Gilmour would have been the darlings of Indian cricket. “We want the younger members of the Indian community living in Australia, many of whom play in Sydney Grades competitions, talking about transplantation and organ donation.”
Indian opening batsman Gautam Gambhir is also very open about his support for organ donation. His bat features a sticker for the Gift A Life, an organisation raising organ and tissue donation awareness in India.
ATCC batsman Kevin Green will be travelling to Sydney for the game. He waited 8 years on haemodialysis for a donor kidney. Last year and 18 months later, with a kidney transplant in place, he scored a match winning 160 runs against the equivalent English team in Newcastle, UK. He is looking forward to sharing his passion for cricket with the Indian Community XI.
All-rounder Pat Nolan from Wollongong is another looking forward to the game. By day he is responsible for ensuring the quality of Sydney’s drinking water. His weekend priorities however are always his young family and a game of cricket.
Also behind the match is the Professor of Transplantation Surgery at University of Sydney, Richard Allen. “No one likes to talk about death, whether they be the family of a potential donor or the doctors caring for a loved one with an irreversible brain injury. If the wishes of the donor, their family and their community are known beforehand, organ donation rates would dramatically increase.”
The “Cricket for Jeevan Dhan” event will commence at 11am and will be held at the Number 1 oval at the University of Sydney. Entry to the event is free and Indian food will be available at a nominal cost.
More information please telephone Transplant Australia’s Marketing Manager, Amelia McLaurin, on (02) 9922-5400 or 0433 435 588